Murphy makes it through to face Fu

Murphy makes it through to face Fu

Shaun Murphy set up a second-round showdown with Marco Fu after denying Andrew Higginson a dream debut at the Betfred.com World Championship.

Murphy prevailed 10-8 and his next match will be a repeat of December’s UK Championship final. Murphy won that one in a thrilling late-night finish.

Former champion Murphy, who stunned the sport by landing the world title as a qualifier in 2005, had looked in trouble after losing three of this morning’s opening four frames against his unfancied opponent.

That meant Higginson turned around a 5-4 deficit to lead 7-6 at the mid-session interval, and he was threatening a major shock.

Higginson had tried but failed to qualify 11 times before steaming past Michael Judge last month to earn his place in the main draw.

Murphy, who was feeling unwell, managed to step up his performance after the short break out of the arena and won the next three frames.

Higginson pulled one more back, to make it 9-8, but Murphy was not to be denied.

Yesterday’s first session had been largely disappointing, but there was ample drama when they resumed.

Murphy had been under the weather, which was a likely factor behind his subdued display, and 31-year-old Widnes player Higginson sensed his chance.

Higginson was not playing particularly fluently himself, and a break of 65 in the 11th frame – the second of the morning – was his highest of the match.

The pair traded mistakes and then bitty breaks in the 14th frame, which in the context of the match was a huge one.

Murphy held his nerve and a run of 26 from the final red brought him back on level terms.

Higginson was punished for failing to seize on an opportunity in the next, and Murphy made a timely clearance of 69.

He then fired in a break of 101 in the next frame to go within one frame of victory.

A break of 64 set up Higginson to win frame 17, but Murphy soon made sure of victory.

On the other table, Ryan Day moved 6-3 ahead against Stephen Lee, making a break of 120 in the eighth frame.

Trowbridge professional Lee, 34, had to come through qualifying after dropping out of the top 16, and the 2003 semi-finalist was outclassed by Day early on.

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